Learning from the past

I’ve been clearing out my office this week as I’m moving to my super new building next week and I’m full of excitement and expectation about how it will work. I’ve even sneaked in and had some time in my new bit to get a feel for it and I’m very impressed with it. They’ve given me some nice comfy chairs in my ‘space’ to have guests come and relax around a coffee table, all very funky and trendy. I can’t turn that lights off yet (need a remote control for that apparently) but that’s getting sorted out, as are the vents for the air which is flowing in through an undercroft and makes odd noises very occasionally (I feel a bit like that part of Total Recall where they start to turn the vents off on Mars). Actually Martin Weller described my move as landing on Mars and there are certain similarities because it’s quite odd moving to such an open environment. Yes I have an ‘office’ but it’s glass fronted and surrounded by open space (the Nexus). I’m very comfortable with it having been in more open environments before and I like the idea that we can brainstorm at any time should we need to and that the team can connect quickly with me and see if I’m free to chat without having to knock on a door.

Anyhow that isn’t the point of my post. The point is that when clearing out my office I’ve come across what could variously be described as either a load of old trash or a goldmine of information from the past. I tried throwing things out and I think I’ve got rid of most things before the last decade but it’s very difficult as I keep getting distracted by stuff that was about ‘the internet broadband revolution’ or ‘the ways people will engage with online learning environments’ or a myriad of other stuff that came out of EU or JISC work. The strange thing is much of it is still applicable today. The issues have switched a little away from connectivity issues in the UK to connectivity issues in emerging nations, the scope has increased but some issues still remain the same.

For example I did work in the nineties about Interactive TV. the theory we described back then is very topical now, much more so than back then when we were working largely from a theoretical viewpoint. I was involved in the MITV (Microsoft Interactive TV) trials so there was some actual hardware albeit limited but the research was very much ‘what if’. Now it’s more like ‘why not’ and ‘how much does it cost’.

I’ve also been reading some old magazines which refer to interesting stuff, an example is  this Open Source article from IT Week from March 2007. I didn’t read it at the time but it’s actually very relevent to our work now as with OpenLearn at the OU and the move to OER and aligns with the move by some organisations away from Vista and towards Linux there are trends developing which support the viewpoint that open source should rightly be explored by public sector organisations and promoted from school level upwards. I’ve nothing against Microsoft here I just think that non profit organisations should be trying to explore not for profit software and tools (and content and other resources) to help them.

About willwoods
I'm Head of Learning and Teaching Technologies in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University.

2 Responses to Learning from the past

  1. Nice post. It reminds me of my office shifting few years ago.

  2. willwoods says:

    Thanks Amit, I’ve got one of my machines installed in the new bit and I started to work there today. What I think I like most is the peace and quiet to work. That sounds odd being in a more open environment but actually it stays very quiet largely because people respect each other and get on.

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